Time stands still amid the hustle and bustle of college students and commuter traffic at the corner of Cache la Poudre Street and Cascade Avenue. A select group of Colorado College art students, led by "stick-master" Patrick Dougherty, create suspended-animation "dreams" woven around the corner's existing landscape, attracting onlookers in droves.
Disguised as enormous nests, hives, baskets and huts, which are just a few of the "floating ideas" Dougherty brings to a new site, these sculptures are aesthetically pleasing and alluring to even the most dormant of imaginations. The artists keep the branches and sticks moist, to make the weaving possible, and Dougherty says the fragrance the wood gives off transports most artists and early visitors to their childhood.
"As kids, we all played with sticks," he says. "I think that comes back to us when we work on a sculpture like this or when we see the finished product."
Dougherty's CC installation, which began Oct. 27, is scheduled for completion Friday, Nov. 14.
The materials he's using were cleared by the city, with the help of Dougherty and his project group, from the banks of Monument Creek near the college grounds. Dougherty illustrates the flavor of the sticks' creekside home by giving his sculptures a wispy flow reminiscent of the water's current. He and his fellow sculptors anchor their pieces by wedging larger limbs into freshly dug holes in the ground. Once the base is created, smaller branches and sticks are woven from that structural base, creating Dougherty's signature designs.
The North Carolina-based Dougherty has created stick sculptures since 1982, and his works can be found nationwide, as well as in Mexico, Europe and Asia. Photographs of past work can be viewed on his Web site, stickwork.net.
Dougherty anticipates his latest sculptures will weather Colorado Springs' climate changes for approximately two years before they're all removed. Until then, he hopes his contribution to the busy intersection draws in passersby, during the normal course of each day, to discover pleasure in taking a moment to marvel at stick-sculpted dreams woven into the backdrop of everyday life.